Over the last eight weeks, Coon Rapids girls’ tennis coach Scott Storrick has mixed and matched 18 different lineups during the span of 23 matches.
“What that means is everybody has or can play singles and doubles,” Storrick said on a soggy Thursday morning the day after the Cardinals opened Section 5AA play with a 6-1 win over No. 14 Park Center for their 20th win of the season.
The lopsided win came six days after the Cardinals ended a 13-year Northwest Suburban Conference title drought with a narrow 4-3 win against Maple Grove.
“The way the girls are playing now, winning nine matches in a row, they’re playing good tennis,” he said about building momentum and confidence to reach the team’s ultimate goal of reaching at least the section final. “Winning each match is what we’re concerned with.”
Before the season Storrick told a parent that a 16-win season was a possibility “based on the [other] teams losing players and experience from last year returning for us and that we had two ninth-graders who couldn’t play for us last season because of the district’s play-up policy,” he said.
Coon Rapids ended the regular season with a perfect 6-0 mark in conference play and is 20-3 through the section opener, well ahead of the seemingly optimistic 16-win prediction.
“What’s nice is that we have a mixture of players with five seniors and four juniors then the rest are underclassmen,” Storrick said.
The section opener saw the Cardinals sweep the four singles matches highlighted by top singles player Emily Bauer’s 6-1, 6-0 win. Sarah Brinda won at third singles 6-2, 6-0 and Hannah Naegele won at fourth singles 6-1, 6-1.
The Cardinals won at second (Rosie Grainger and Allison Bauer) and third (Andrea Rehm and Tina McManus) doubles by the same 6-1, 6-2 scores.
The lone team point for the Pirates came at first doubles where Helen Nelson and Lauren Beckman couldn’t recover from a slow start, losing the opening set 6-1 but the comeback attempt in the second set fell short, 7-5.
Looking at the final result, Storrick is glad his squad didn’t go 7-0, so they have areas to focus on during practice.
Mounds View, ranked ninth in the final Class AA state rankings, is the top seed in Section 5AA and Summer Brills finished the season with the top ranking in the state.
Cardinals conference champs
Winning close matches was key for the Cardinals which went 4-1 in one-point matches during the regular season, including the decisive match against Maple Grove on the Bob Pivec Courts in Coon Rapids.
Two of Coon Rapids’ four captains, Hannula and Bauer, came through with big wins to lead by example at the top two singles spots and give the squad a 19-3 regular season record, 6-0 in the conference.
Hannula’s 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 score at second singles proved to be the clinching team point.
“She lost the second set and had a feeling the [team] match was on her racquet,” Storrick said. “She’s the kind of player we want the pressure to be on. Heidi’s a three-sport student and she won the third set, 6-1, in 15 minutes.
“She was like a bull in a china shop, didn’t sit down on the change over. Instead she did jumping jacks.”
Bauer, playing at No. 1 singles for the third straight season, overcame a loss last season in the same position to win in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 and Naegele swept her fourth singles match 6-0, 6-0.
Coon Rapids picked up one team point from three matches where Allison Bauer and Grainger won at second doubles 6-1, 6-3. The top doubles team of Nelson and Beckman nearly forced a third set tie-breaker, but lost 6-1, 7-6.
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